BRADENTON -- With youth ambassadors arriving Sunday for the two-week United Nations Power of Sport Summit it was the perfect time for IMG Academy to roll out the grand opening for its new fieldhouse -- a cornerstone of IMG's $198 million expansion project.
The $5.4 million fieldhouse is loaded with all kinds of amenities for athletes training for football, baseball, lacrosse and track and field.
The 40,000-square-foot, two-story building sits just outside the oval track surrounding IMG Academy's stadium that was unveiled last August.
Several breakout conference rooms can be used for position coaching in football or other sports.
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There's also a video room, laundry room, spacious home football locker room with professional-grade lockers, a visiting football locker room, baseball lockers, lacrosse lockers and an expansive training room.
"Our vision at IMG Academy is bold but it's focused," IMG co-managing director Greg Phillips said. "It's to improve the world one student-athlete at a time. It's to provide one campus, where every person that comes to us, whether international or local, whether female or male, youth or adult, beginner or pro, achieves their full potential as athletes, as students, as citizens, as leaders."
There's also a coaches wing with offices and meet
ing rooms for the various sports.
It is part of IMG's continued expansion plan, which began five years ago and involves an aggressive approach in the near-future.
"The second dorm will be done by June 1, 2015," IMG co-managing director Chip McCarthy said. "The school should be done by Aug. 1, 2015. The student union should be done by mid-December 2015. And the performance center is projected to be done by June 2016."
Six more fields are going in and IMG is redoing all the other fields, he said. All fields and all the fieldwork will be done as well as widening of Bollettieri Boulevard with a security gate by December 2015, he said.
The academic center is 70,000 square feet with the sports performance and research center coming in at 65,000 square feet.
When finished, the entire project will run about $198 million, with $50 million already spent to create the stadium, fieldhouse and residence hall in the first phase.
An economic boon was created by the expansion, McCarthy. The project is creating 2,600 jobs with more than $90 million in wages.
"Along with core and the events that we do, our annual economic impact is more than $700 million," McCarthy said.
Sunday's event showcased the new fieldhouse and kick-started the Power of Sport Summit that attracted 34 global ambassadors from 20 different countries in conjunction with the Right to Play organization and United Nations Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Wilfried Lemke.
Right to Play is a humanitarian organization that seeks to help children gain education through sport to build peaceful communities.
And that's precisely what the summit is designed to do -- to teach ways to bring peace through sport.
"We play a game where boys and girls play football," Lemke said. "This is not special. We have this all around the world. In not many cases, we have the fact that only girls are allowed to score. And that changes the mind of the boys in a very positive and good way. They have to respect the girls, not only on the pitch but after the match during the day."